Kidney infections may occur in one or both kidneys.
The kidneys remove waste from the body through urine. They also balance the water and mineral content in the blood. An infection may prevent them from working properly.
Anatomy of the Kidney
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Kidney infections are caused by a bacteria. The specific type of bacteria can vary. The bacteria most often comes from an untreated bladder infection.
Bacteria may be introduced to the urinary tract and ultimately the kidneys by:
Other medical conditions that increase your risk of infection include:
Symptoms of kidney infection may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A kidney infection is diagnosed with urine tests. The urine is examined for:
You may need further tests if the infection does not go away with treatment or if you have had several infections. These tests will be done to see if there are problems with the kidney, ureters, and bladder. Images of these structures can be taken by:
If the infection is not treated correctly or is left untreated, kidney infection can lead to:
You will be treated with antibiotics. Be sure to take all of the medication. Antibiotics may need to be delivered through an IV. This may require a stay in the hospital.
If you are diagnosed with a kidney infection, follow your doctor's instructions.
Surgical correction of vesicoureteral reflux in children may reduce risk for pyelonephritis.
Since kidney infection is often a complication of a bladder infection. You can prevent bladder infections if you:
National Kidney Foundation
Urology Care Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Acute pyelonephritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated December 4, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.
Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/ . Updated June 11, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.
3/6/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Nikolaidis P, Casalino DD, Remer EM. American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria Acute Pyelonephritis. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=37923 . Updated 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013